Feeds

Microsoft aims Windows Embedded 8 at $1.4 trillion market

Six flavors to arrive in early 2013

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

With the much-ballyhooed launches of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 behind it, Microsoft has now announced its product road map for the less consumer-centric version of its OS platform: Windows Embedded.

Targeting the so-called Internet of Things, Windows Embedded 8 will come packaged in a variety of flavors to suit the full range of intelligent devices, including point-of-sale (POS) systems, medical devices, handheld equipment, in-car systems, and industrial sensors, among others.

In a press release, Microsoft said that the forthcoming releases signaled a "big transition" for Redmond, one that would see it morph from a software company to a "devices and services" company.

The first versions of Windows Embedded 8 aren't due to reach general availability until March 2013, but Redmond added spice to its road map announcement by making a Release Preview of Windows Embedded 8 Standard available for download on Tuesday.

Like previous Windows Embedded releases, Windows Embedded 8 Standard is a modularized version of Windows that allows device makers to strip out the parts of the OS they don't need, and reduce it to the smallest footprint possible.

With the new version, the platform will gain many of the features of mainstream Windows 8 – in particular, its focus on touch-centric interfaces that can be controlled using gestures.

When it ships in March, the Standard version of the platform will be joined by Windows Embedded 8 Pro – taking the place of the earlier Windows Embedded Enterprise – which will essentially be a full version of desktop Windows 8 packaged for embedded systems.

Other versions of the OS will ship later in the year. First will be Windows Embedded 8 Industry, which will replace Windows Embedded POSReady and will target a range of industry-specific silos, such as manufacturing and healthcare, in addition to POS systems. Next will come Windows Embedded 8 Handheld and Windows 8 Embedded Automotive, aimed at the handheld device and in-car systems markets, respectively.

Microsoft Windows Embedded 8 road map chart

Versions of Windows Embedded for devices will roll out through early 2013

Microsoft has shared few details about the features of these more industry-specific bundlings of the OS, let alone when they will ship, although it has said it plans to make a Community Technology Preview of Windows Embedded 8 Industry available in January.

Finally, rounding out Redmond's embedded systems will be Windows Embedded Compact 2013 – no "8" this time, oddly enough – an ultra-lightweight version of the OS designed for very small footprint devices, due to ship in the second quarter of 2013.

At the annual Build developer conference in October, Microsoft's Brandon Bray explained that Windows Embedded Compact would be the new home of the .Net Compact Framework, now that Windows Phone 8 has transitioned to using the more fully featured Core CLR.

"There are a lot of devices that still want to use less than 256MB of memory and there's quite a market for those across various industries," Bray said, citing sensor devices for factory automation as one example.

In addition, Bray said all of the new flavors of Windows Embedded would include support for Visual Studio 2012, allowing developers to use a single suite of tools to build apps for the full range of Microsoft platforms for the first time.

It's little wonder that Redmond is turning its attention to the device market. In its press release, Microsoft cited a study from analyst firm IDC that forecast the market for intelligent systems to exceed $1.4tn by 2016.

That's a huge potential opportunity for platform vendors – one that certainly hasn't been lost on Oracle, which announced new versions of its Java platform for embedded systems in September. With the new versions of Windows Embedded, Microsoft is hoping that its mature Windows technology coupled with its new emphasis on touch-centric UIs will allow it to outflank its rivals and grab a bigger piece of the embedded-device pie.

Or, as Windows Embedded general manager Kevin Dallas put it, "Between the range of experience, talent and technology that we have in play, I'm convinced that Microsoft and its community of partners are uniquely qualified to take the lead." ®

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Captain Kirk sets phaser to SLAUGHTER after trying new Facebook app
William Shatner less-than-impressed by Zuck's celebrity-only app
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.